The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


Suellen Nicholson

Suellen Nicholson

Suellen Nicholson

(03) 9342 9647 | [email protected]

Head of Infectious Diseases Serology Laboratory
Dengue, Hepatitis , HIV
Global Health, Public Health
Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL)
Lab Group(s):
Nicholson Group

Suellen Nicholson is a Senior Medical Scientist heading the Infectious Diseases Serology Laboratory, including the State HIV Reference laboratory, World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Regional Reference Laboratory for Measles/Rubella and WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL). Suellen has thirty years’ experience working in serology laboratories, focussed on testing and result interpretation for viruses, bacteria and parasites. In addition to diagnostic, reference and public health work, Suellen has lead a number of research projects and is currently the Primary Reviewer for the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia HIV Serology Quality Assurance Program. 

  • Key Achievements
    • Suellen completed her Bachelor of Science in 1984 and began work in the Virology Laboratory at the Red Cross Blood Bank in 1985. In 1987, she moved to the National Hepatitis Laboratory at Fairfield infectious Diseases Hospital, subsequently the State HIV Reference and Infectious Diseases Serology Laboratory. In addition to diagnostic testing, she has lead a number of research projects, including: determining the prevalence of HTLV-1 infection in selected populations in Australia and the Western Pacific; evaluating the first tests for Hepatitis C and carrying out large-scale studies to determine the prevalence of Hepatitis C in various populations within Australia; a WHO Collaborative study on alternative confirmatory strategies for anti-HIV testing; WHO Collaborative Hepatitis serosurveys in the Western Pacific region, including working on the island of Lombok, Indonesia; and Seroprevalance studies in collaboration with the Department of Health and Department of Defence.

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    • East Timor – confirmatory testing for Hepatitis B using dried blood spots

      As a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis Suellen’s group is involved in the development and evaluation of a laboratory method for hepatitis B virus confirmation using dried blood spot filter paper testing as an alternative method to venous blood collection. This method is to be used in a study in the Western Pacific region in collaboration with the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM).

    • HIV confirmatory test – review of result interpretative criteria.

      As the Victorian State HIV Reference Laboratory, Suellen’s group is involved in an Australia wide review, coordinated by the National Reference Laboratory, to look at HIV confirmatory test result interpretative criteria in relation to the new Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) In-vitro Diagnostics guidelines implemented 30 June 2015.

    • HIV point of care testing – review of HIV seroconverter patients

      With increased pressure for healthcare providers to carry out point of care (POC) rapid diagnostic testing, in particular for Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Suellen’s group is involved in a study with Melbourne Sexual Health Centre to review HIV seroconverter patients in the context of POC testing versus fourth generation combination HIV antigen/antibody tests, reviewing the differences in assay sensitivity and specificity.

    • Web based submission of Global Proficiency Panel results for Measles and Rubella

      Part of VIDRL’s role as a WHO Western Pacific Regional Reference Laboratory for Measles and Rubella is to prepare and distribute a 'Global Proficiency Panel for Measles and Rubella' annually to approximately 250 laboratories worldwide, and to collate and report the results. Suellen’s group has developed and is in the process of implementing a new web based method for laboratories to report their results back.

    • Defence Science and Technology Organisation – endemic disease surveillance project

      This is a collaborative study with Defence Science and Technology Organisation to determine the prevalence of disease in travellers returning from sub-tropical and tropical areas nationally and within the region. Suellen’s group’s role is to perform serological testing for seven different arboviruses. Arboviruses are spread by the bite of infected arthropods, the main vector of which is the mosquito.

    Research Groups
    • Nicholson Group

      Suellen's group fulfills a dual mission of providing a technically first class, reliable diagnostic, reference and public health service to the healthcare system, and being an innovative, adaptable, forward-looking component of the scientific community and a valued collaborator in research projects, not just in Victoria, but nationally and in the region.

      Lab Team

      Nicholson Group

      • Theo Karapanagiotidis
        Deputy scientist
      • Vicki Stambos
        WHO Measles/Rubella scientist
      • Sara Al-Moosawi
        Bursary student
      • Rianne Brizuela
      • Josie Camilleri
      • Stavroula Corby
      • Celia Douros
      • Natalie Dunbar
      • Adam Enriquez
      • Marie Gerrard
      • Di Karamalakis
      • Theodora Kaminis
      • Kate Pedrina
      • Laura Stevens
      • Kristy Witlox